Sunday, July 31, 2005

My marital woes

My guest house owner is an extremely sweet lady. She's plump, wears tinted glasses, has lovely gray fluffy hair with appropriately lashed black streaks and she speaks a language that I don't understand a word of :) Every morning when I go down for breakfast, she makes my day with that wonderfully salty omelette and a cup of tea I have no idea how to drink. I am being mean and cynical here but really, she's just one awesome host. Like all awesome hosts, she has a way of providing personalized service to each one of us, even if she doesn't understand what we are asking for.

Every lazy saturday morning at about ten, I am the only one who knocks her doors for breakfast and we have one of those rare, intimate, personal conversations

She: Sie sollten besseres um Ihrem Raum, es kümmern sind schrecklich schmutzig (You should take better care of your room, it's awfully dirty)
Me: (Smiling) I have no idea what you are saying.
She: Ich denke, daß alle Sie indische Männer wie das sind. Ich bin für Ihre Frauen traurig (I think all you indian men are like that. I am sorry for your wives)
Me: Yeah, india - good country. you should come sometime

and like this we talk for hours until both of us are tired of each other. The other day as she was giving me one of those salty omelettes, she pointed to the omelettes and said, "Taine mama" (or something like that. I have no idea!). I stared back at her giving her one of my trademark confused looks (while I try to multiply 123x247 in my head to make it look authentic). She repeats it four or five times and I still have no idea (Stop looking at me like I am a bozo. Even google doesn't have an idea of what she's saying). It finally strikes me that mama might mean mother and I say, "yes, mother. also makes wonderful omelettes like this". Relieved, she finally starts for the kitchen, gets a brain wave and turns back and says, "Wife?". I roll my eyes and say, "No, too early!". She asks again, "No wife?", looks at my omelette and me, looks up at the ceiling and then again at me.

And Zzziing .... everything came back to me.

Last time I was here, I was with ~P, my classmate, colleague and a great friend. I have to say that both of us complemented each other very well. I wanted good food and she wanted some "good" company while cooking. And it's not like she did all the work - we shared our responsibilities equally. She did most of the cooking and I did most of the eating. And this strategic alliance went on for three months. We typically used to cook together everyday and initially, she was staying in another hotel that was quite far. So, I requested our dear guest house lady to accomodate her in the same guest house as I was in. We then used to go for breakfast together, and in those "few" occasions she locked herself out, the knight in the shining armor (me!) would brave the cold and call upon the land lady to give me the spare keys. She put all these 2s together and made an 8 quite soon. And one fine day when ~P was sleeping, our land lady knocked on my door regarding some papers. As I was finding them for her, she looked around and asked me where is my wife? My what???? I then told her that she was my friend and that she's sleeping in her room. She pointed to the ring and gave me a questioning look. God knows what all questions ran in her mind - extra marital affair probably :))

Anyway, tortoise mosquito repellant rolled back again and we are in the future. I realize she's not looking at the omellete but at my ring. She remembers the girl, the ring but not the whole explanation I gave her on a cold, winter night. I want to tell her that it's my mother's gift to me. But I realize using mother in this context will only complicate things more and she might even throw me out of the house. So, I give one of my stupidest grins and stare into my omelette as if it's an X-ray report.

And I am asking god why in his own name, didn't he give my mom a daughter. The "sad" family truth is I don't have a sister and my mom always wanted a daughter. So, for every alternate birthday, I get a jewel as a gift. I already have two rings (one in each hand), a chain. My brother got the bracelet and both of us have categorically told her that neither of us has an intention of wearing trinklets EVER. And in sometime, I will parade in SAP's campus looking like Michael jackson or Elton john.

Before I leave, just another incident that happened in france (when I was 21). I was having lunch with this east european girl and every once in a while, she will have a question on her lips but refused to ask me. Realizing there's something that's seriously botherring her, I assured her that I wouldn't take any offence.

"So, how does it feel?", she asked, "being married so soon?"

"I don't know. I am not even 21 yet and I am definitely not married". It was then I realized the ring connection and gave her a grimace.

"How would I know! I know there's child marriage and all that in India. And I thought you were one of those victims!".

A victim - Indeed! MOM!!!!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Through the haze ....

This post is like a walk. I am not going anywhere, I am just smelling the roses and savoring thoughts that live and die in an instant. Taking a walk through a haze of thoughts, imagining myself walking to buy a carton of milk in those early mornings in the month of Margazhi (tamil month) .

All of us have this little world inside our heads - with our own definitions of good and evil, with self defined limits of love/hate/betrayal or human decadence. We hold these limits very dear, let people in only when they fit into this realm of reason, watch the world through our tinted glasses through which anything beyond our limits of reason is ugly, naked and revolting.

It's not just about limits - it's the people too. Sooner or later, every acquaintance is painted as a caricature inside our head - skewed, interesting and definitely different from reality. We then have a relationship not with the real person but with this caricature inside our head. The longer you know the person, the stronger your relationship is with this caricature, and the farther it is from the real him/her. Not just acquaintances - but every category, every role defined in the human race. Men, women, mother, father, humans themselves - we don't see them for who they are but try fitting them into our definitions, straitjacket them into our caricatures - aberrations are exceptions and can be ignored, if they are loud enough and demand attention, we scream, shout, express indignation and go back to the straitjacket-ing.

Event name : "Social workers help save lives in mumbai flood".
Assign specimen ID. Specimen no. 2314.
Check for behavioural exceptions. None.
"lo! we have a perfect fit. Long live the caricatures"
Caricature validity++.
Straitjacketed, bottled and erased.
Speciment no. 2315. Straitjacketed, bottled and erased.
Speciment no. 2316. Exception occured! mended, punctured, Straitjacketed, bottled and erased.

all our lives ... every single moment.
This is an amazing view of life - every moment being an event that shall be bottled and erased. But that's not true isn't it - some of them stay with us, sometimes for a lifetime. It's not always something that makes us happy. Probably some of these events just cut deeper, hold on like rust onto the exodus pipe and stay there as the only remains of all those happy, sad, nondescript snapshots in the walk of life. These probably are the ones that go all the way and shape/change the caricatures. The members of the hall of fame.

But imagine living life treating it like such a bottling process. No! Humans are made of greater stuff. We need a facade over this skelton - a healthy value addition, a greater purpose, a stairway to heaven. it's amazing to live life without this realization - a state of suspension of disbelief, where we indulge ourselves in every emotion that we feel rather than treating them as a journey of neurons or as shooting synapses in our neural network. Zoom in and Zoom out of a view of the world - worrying about children I have never met or will never be meeting again in some hamlet in france for one second, and get consumed in trivial nothingness of an gargantuan, monolithic I the very next second, feel like a speck in a huge scheme of things as I walk on a concrete bridge washed by a recent downpour watching nature unfold itself until the very end of my sight. Zoom in, Zoom out - over and over again, indulge in them, word them, verbalise them and speak of them as the most important thing in the world at that very instant.

Straitjacketed, bottled and erased. Suspension of disbelief.

I realize, I must have lost you a long while back :)
I have to leave now.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The End of the Abyss

About 165 miles away from Paris, is a sleepy french town. The town has a castle and that's not very famous and that not so famous castle was the town's only claim to fame. I wouldn't blame you if you had missed the buzz about this town in the last couple of years (if you were comfortably caught in the middle of a desert like I was back in 1999). A buzz about an episode involving a lot of people, whose deathknoll was sounded yesterday in the court rooms of paris.

A trial ended as you might have guessed. The numbers involved are huge - there are 65 defendants and 45 victims, spread widely across the scales of age. And what do you know, some defendants and victims are from the same family, the last names of whom are being withheld for security reasons. What was the charge? Frequents visits "to go for a coffee", as people put it in that sleepy town with a not-so-famous castle.

You can find all the details you need here or here and lots more here

My problem is ignorance - It was beyond my imagination that an event of this scale can ever occur among humans, and so I used all superlatives to events that pale in comparison to this one. I have overused the feelings of trauma, shame, anger and disbelief in this blog for what now seem to be innocent, innocous human blunders. So, what if a boy was let to die in the middle of the road, or some girl in a bus stop screamed because she was touched by a beggar - ladies and gentlemen, we have successfully found a parallel to shoving innocent families in gas chambers and transporting half-burnt corpses in goods trains.

No this one is worse.

This event demands a redefinition - of entire humanity. Let's go back to the basic tenets we hold sanctimonious. I am not talking of ethics or benevolence or consideration to a fellow human - principles that are inculcated by a proper breeding, education, religion and civilization. I am talking of the basic tenets hardcoded in our genes the moment we are born that works against even one's own good in an effort to save one's progeny.

Open the markets - there's a sale!

You can have sex with a six month old baby for a cigarette and some beer and sometimes even a car tyre!

And since you are our preferred customer, You buy this girl, you will get this boy free.

This sir, is the best one we have. I can you tell you for sure because this is my own daughter!

Here's the rapist of the month - 25 down and still going strong!

Those around are still trying to rationalize and understand why this happened - they are illiterates, they are unemployed, they are away from the society, and reasons like -

these were people who were unable to manage their sexual impulses. And nobody told them these things shouldn't be done"

Someone even compared them to animals (excuse me, you must be joking to call them animals!).

I really don't have anything to say. I will come back to this once again. I ought to believe that all this actually happened in the same land as I inhabit, reassess my moral scales and find words to express a deep sense of emptiness that seems to eat my entire being.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Mother do you think they'll drop the bomb?

Ever since I have come to Germany, I have been doing only two things in the evening
  1. Cooking (yeah baby! I am still alive ;))
  2. Watching CNN

While, point 1 is the most exciting thing that's happened to me in the last two weeks (if you don't count my conversation with the iyengar mami) the latter one is well, quite depressing to say the least. Here's a summary of what I have been listening to
  1. 53 dead in the london 7/7 bombing (7,9,11 - what's with these odd numbers!)
  2. 4 more (thankfully failed) attempts but one guy killed during investigation
  3. More bloodshed in Egypt - 4 bomb blasts
  4. Violence in Turkey
  5. Yet another suicide bomb blast in Iraq
Do you listen to other sources of news - are all of them as scary and as doomsday-ish as CNN is? Because, if they are, thank god I don't have a TV in Bangalore. Trust me it is a very depressing feeling when you go to bed when the last thing is you see is a headless corpse bleeding outside a hotel villa with no one to tend (I guess that's one stage before getting so scared that you vote a nincompoop for president and two stages before getting completely desensitized to all the blood and gore).

Has the world always been this way? We have had worse situations I am sure. We have had the world wars for one, the atrocities in the gulf, vietnam, srilanka ... we have always had it in india - the blue star fiasco, the bleeding north-east, not to mention kashmir, and recently the shameful godhra riots - every corner of the country bleeding at some point or the other. But in the last 60 years, we probably have never had a global threat as this one, where a substantial number of the population finds a justifiable (though never acceptable) reason to all this violence. Evil probably never had such a strong motive where youngsters attend schools, visit websites and learn to incite violence in normal laymen.

All of us carry multiple identities - I am an Indian, a hindu, a malayali (and a tamilian too), a software engineer, a son and a brother - and all these identities coexist. The motives of one doesn't contradict the other and in cases that they have, I have been able to priortize and decide (probably because, there's one supreme unquestionable identity I carry of being a rational human being). And the greatest atrocities in the world have occurred when power mongers have appealed to the social identity of people - To one's nationality (Hitler) or religion (Godhra) or caste - a passionate appeal to brotherhood that hits a man's reason first, and his neighbour next. And when this brotherhood spans nations and social strata, and uses one of the holiest books in the world as the proof of reason, you have vengeance disseminating in the speed of light.

I have always believed, I knew the difference between the good and the bad. When I was ten, the difference was crystal clear. Dictators are evil. Democray is good (I didn't understand Communism then. I am not sure whether I still do). After seeing the cold war aftermaths, the iraq war, I am not sure. Who's evil? A man who for his personal gains kills thousands of people and rules his country? Or a man who for his business gains kills thousands of people and rules another country? North korea has nuclear weapons - does that make it evil? Is India Evil then? Pakistan is infiltrating terrorism in india and hence is evil? My Pakistani friend probably believes India is initiating rumours about Pakistan all around the world. Afghanistan has a terrorist streak - it is evil. Or should I have to blame the country that initiated the terrorist streak? The United nations has been trying to define Terrorism and the member countries have not yet been able to reach a consensus on what Terrorism is (No! I am not kidding). They are hoping to do it in the next couple of years. No wonder.

When I was ten, I wasn't sure if I know the complete truth. Now I am - that I don't and never will. When I was ten, I believed that people who read the news in my language are saying the truth (coz that is the only one I could understand). Now, I am not sure of even that. All that I know is every evening, strangers take turns to enter my bedroom through a cathode ray window and scare me out of my wits; they take pains in proving to me that I am next in the list of those blown-to-bits (there were good ol' days when I could appreciate the pun), convincing me that cooking my own dinner is far safer than going out on the roads and eating in a restaurant.

My Mom is eternally thankful to them for that.

Title Credits: Who else? :) Click to read the rest

Sunday, July 24, 2005

East of Eden

When he was 10, my brother wrote a story called "Big family". The story is about four generations of a family starting with a poor guy becoming a rich man and the next three generations becoming lawyers, doctors and actors (I think). Then after four generations, the story comes to end. When I asked him what the story has to say, he said the story is about what happened to these people. Nothing bad happened; all of them are happy but it's still a story. And from a 10 year old, that was a profound statement.
For me to like a story, there has to be a conflict, a tug of war between characters who we relate to and whose emotions we believe are real - someone to cheer for, someone to despise, someone to live my dreams within my head as I read it. But when a book spans 700 odd pages and many generations, I have often lost interest mid way because unknowingly, there's a pattern in the events that occur, in the characters and their ways (and sometimes even in their names) and in the conflicts they face. East of Eden suffers from the same problems - not by accident but by design.
The story is based on one of the oldest stories told by the christian faith - the story of Cain and Abel and how generations of fathers and brothers go through the same act of jealousy, anger, revenge and love.
The story is set in the Salinas valley and is primarily about two families - Trasks and the Hamiltons and how these families weave themselves into each other's lives. The story is not about one man - it's about many men; many memorable men and a few strong willed women. Even the author is a character albeit an insignificant speck from where the action is, but still a voice (a lot like Samay in Mahabharatha serials on DD). If the whole book were a war, every conflict is a battle between good and evil - a good that is so innocent that you wish you could pick him from the book and save him from the pain. And an evil that is born out of yearning for love, a need that you have felt deep down that you relate to it and shudder at the thought. And like in the Mahabharatha, there is a servant (like a charioteer), who epitomizes trust, faith and makes sense of everything that happens around and philosophises profoundly.
The whole book is a proof of a life worth spent - complete with words of wisdom, religious retrospection and knowlege of human behaviour - bordering to self indulgence. It beautifully displays the complexities in the fundamental relationships between a father and a son and between brothers; shows how love, hate, jealousy and care can coexist in a single relationship, and shows it through a multitude of relationships. Characters abound, form and die within the span of the book; some stray away and some disappear but when Adam Trask speaks his last words, "Timshell" and closes his eyes the closure is absolute.
East of Eden is one of those books that let you live many lives in one. Put simply, it's the story of mankind and its varied frailities. When you see through the sub plots and the imagery, there are real people - You and me - and that self-discovery is worth the read.

After a long time ...

... I have updated my travel diary. It's a morally and intellectually challenging question when you are traveling as a part of work - does it go to your travel blog or your normal blog. One of these days I will integrate all these blogs together ("finally", I can hear ~AM say, "common sense prevails!"). Till then ... please read on ....

Friday, July 22, 2005

Stray musings - II

Saw this list in this blog (through Jax's blog) - This is a meme again, where you mark in bold whatever you have done and italicize what you want to do and pass it around to those you know. I am neither going to bolden it nor name people and pass it around. But shall keep the list in my blog because this is a list for a lifetime - so many things that I have always wanted to do and so many other things that I have never dreamt of doing but sound good when read in this list :)
PS: I have done 50 of them so far and planning to add 25 more by the end of this year :)

Stray Musings - I

Stray thoughts that have been pending for sometime ...
Growing up with a girl is never a smooth journey (like it is with a guy). While aging is one smooth when-did-that-happen for a guy, it's anything but that for a girl. Every milestone is marked and the celebrations that ensue seal beyond doubt that things will never be the same again. I learnt it first when I was thirteen (and so was she) and was too young to even comprehend what happened. I saw it again when I was 18, when she got married and moved away, and with every step widened an irremediable distance that's been growing since. At 23, I felt it again when I saw her lie in the bed with her baby next to her - the feeling of being with a stranger I can't relate to, someone who's much elder than I am, who's at the threshold of responsibilities far beyond my ability and who's been through an experience that's beyond my imagination.
She smiled as I entered the room and asked me to sit - Next to her was a life that was just a week old, a pink ball punctured with slits and dots for what should be eyes, mouth and a nose blissfully asleep next to her mother. She was too young to be held, touched, coochi-cooed and scared, to even stand next to for the fear that germs and evil vices from one's existence will mar what's closest to pristine purity in this world. We spoke in whispers about the job, the weather, the family dog and what it has for dinner trying to come into terms with something that both of us could feel but pretend didn't exist.
Every once in a while, I caught a glimpse of the pink ball to see if she would miraculously open her eyes and give me a toothless grin or a hug. But she was fast asleep and her mother was more than glad she was. And just as I was about to leave, the pink ball smiled - She was still fast asleep, probably she had a sweet dream. God only would know what she was thinking, an image that is not inspired by anything she's seen around, memories of the womb, her first home, that she still carries in her head - things we have outgrown, baggage we never can unlearn. But that smile - A split second and that's all it lasted. A smile that wasn't checked and corrected in the mirror, that doesn't carry the fear of pain, that's not tarnished by self consciousness and is not sweetened to please. The most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hamara puttar Harry!

What is pristine joy, asketh thee
Watching summer rain from under the tree
making spit bubbles with childish glee
tickling grampa till he wakes and flee
taking wife's wallet for a shopping spree
& reading latest potter totally for free!


With the last mighty door (sic) tumbled down
& Parseltongue speaking one behind professor's nape
When Ron and Her Merge In one
and harry high on felix and Gin (NY)

Will Ho! Great warts open again
after the sign on the wall, the war and the pain
Tell me Tom, riddle will be solved?
At the end of it all, lord es mort?

Seven lives. Seven books.
The stage is set; the phoenix has sung
The last leg is a lonely walk
the long bottom, luna-tic laugh
Ron, bill and the measly lot
will stand as potraits, testaments of truth
As hamara putter will rise above all
and punctuate this tale with the final dot.

brick by brick she has started to lay
Yet another million dollar play
two years is all it takes
for James and Lily's soul to rest in peace

Waiting .....

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

So which color are you?

When this stint of mine in Germany gets over, I would have spent close to three years in Europe. Three years is a long time - to get used to a place, to come to terms with the idiosyncrasies and the inherent biasses people have and to learn to live with it. I have lived a life of a stranger here in Europe with no knowledge of the language and customs. I have never complained about the suspicious stares and the cold shoulders because I realized quite early that if I want to be accepted, it is my duty to learn the language and understand their customs, take that extra step so that I could ask for favors and get my work done rather than expect them to travel the extra mile.
But there's this thin line of difference between suspicion or self defence and outright prejudice. I would understand why a old woman pretends to be deaf when I ask her for the way to a hotel, while she's talking a stride with her puny puppy. But when a driver in a bus does it to me, when I give him the money for a ticket and makes me stand next to him for five whole minutes, while at the sametime men who speak his tongue who board the bus two, three stops hence get their tickets and seat themselves completely, I am sorry but I don't get it! Through my entire journey from my guest house to my company HQ, I was standing right next to him politely requesting him for my ticket over and over again and he acted as if I was invisible, as if I didn't exist. And when he finally did, he gave me a smirk (and No! I did not imagine it!) as if he's proved a point.

Two gentlemen, one German and the other Indian, who have landed in Frankfurt by the same flight have been asked to share a taxi on their way back home. They assent and wait under the summer morning sun while a taxi makes its way next to the platform. A plump taxi driver gets out wishes them good morning, picks the heavy suitcase of the German colleague and places it carefully in the boot of the car. He then looks at the Indian colleague who has an equally huge suitcase, walks back to his seat to start the taxi. Is he being paid any lesser by the Indian colleague? It's the same flight and the same destination - and why would someone do this?
I will not generalize and call this a cultural trait. As much as I would want to, I am not going to make historic references and blame a whole country or a continent because two fools have so far have reacted this way. Because I know when I do that I am making the same racist, foolish mistake that has been irritating me since morning, that I believe belongs to a race far less human than the one I belong to. But one day, when I get to speak this language, I would want to stop and ask these taxi drivers and bus drivers about that mysterious pill they take before lunch or after dinner that blesses them with such an unbelievably irritating and nasty attitude.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Ze Zermany

Ich habe schließlich Deutschland erreicht. Hatte einen bequemen Flug und jetzt ein morgens an meinem Sitz. Gibt alle interessanten Geschichten bekannt, sobald ich Zeit finde!

PS: For all technical issues, contact google's language tools team

Friday, July 15, 2005

Brave new world

Firstly, thanks so much everyone for taking the time to answer the question :)

Over the last week, I have been thinking about the same question during those long lonely walks back home. More in the lines of, if I am given a world where everything is perfect and where I will be completely shielded from pain and given all means to stay happy, would I want to live there? A land where I would be clinically programmed right from genesis to like what I ought to, and given what I will learn to like (and given lots of it), be provided a vocation where my aptitute exactly matches my expectation, where another choice is not even a stray thought. Where I am what I eventually disintegrate into - an amalgam of chemicals and man, my apothecary, the author of my destiny and not god. Where variety is a proof of human error and humanity, a vast identical herd on the scientific highway.

A land where pain is not glorified - neither as heroism (for there won't be a war or crisis), nor as sacrifice (for there would be no love) nor as piety (for there's no god). Where art is dissected into a set of physical sensations that one craves to feel and fed directly to the senses without subtlety or ambiguity of interpretation. A land where youth is eternal, death a decision and pain a frivolous indulgence. Where a human who loves his mother (the-one-who-cannot-be-named) is a savage and is beyond reason and home is where four sweaty souls weep and waste their lives together in pain.

After watching America take the path of mass production to manufacture cars and watching culture disintegrate itself in all forms of art and life, Aldous Huxley went back to paint this world as his image of future - where the american lifestyle would conquer the world and its ways and where people will finally vote for happiness as their final goal. That was 1939.

I would neither talk about the plot nor about the beautifully layered interpretations that the book offers. But that one question - What do you really want in life? Behind all that you wish to do, see, accomplish, understand and achieve - isn't that the bottom line? Happiness? Do I really want to live in the brave new world?

It must have about three in the morning. It was during an engaging conversation that ~D said (though not in the same words), "For a long time I was looking for happiness in my life and sorrow or failure irritated me and made me feel hopeless. Now, I look for contentment - I don't deny the existence of pain nor do I cloth it in a happy garb. I see it, feel it for what it is but realize it's just as an integral part of life as is happiness. I realized my life is complete when I see every outcome with this equanimity. Where things can go wrong, where I can afford to lose but understand that this is just another step, another moment lived (rather than extrapolated, analysed and wasted). I don't deny myself the pain. I feel it for its worth and wait till the next moment comes along"

And when you see him you realize he means it - he's seen life, loved and lost, gained and lost it again. He probably is not able to do it all the time. But this is what he believes in, he strives for.

I still don't have the answer to this question - deep down I know for a fact that pain and fear have helped me grow much more than happiness ever has; That I can't accept life and humanity as an eclectic and rather imperfect mixture of chemicals. I sincerely believe in god, good will and a higher purpose. To admit all I need in life is just happiness feels like shriveling my existence into an insignificant dot. But I am waiting to hear a voice ringing strong sans doubt.

PS: If you are interested, you don't have to buy it. You can find it here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

One quick question

What do you really want in life?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The eternal wait!

9:50 in the night is not a bad time to travel in bangalore. And when you get out of Forum, you expect to be in Airport road in about 20 minutes. A line of waiting cars on Hosur road is too common a sight if you have been around for sometime. But when not a fly moves for more then a dozen minutes, you obviously venture to check what is happening.

Apparently, the news in the 10th file of vehicles from the epicenter of all the chaos was that a policeman had slapped an auto driver. 10 files hence, someone was telling everyone that a police officer had stabbed an auto driver. I decided to find it out myself, got out of the bike and stretched myself to spot a whole array of autos and auto drivers lined across the road; Some of them were screaming and the rest of them were punching their fisits into nothing.

Realizing it's going to take a lot of time to sort out, my friends and I pulled the bike onto the pavement and thought we will walk till we cross the point of crisis. Just as we were trying to make our way through two autos on the pavement, a pizza delivery scooter whisked past us and tried making its way through the autos. A balding, old man in khakis rushed towards the scooter, caught hold of it and asked the guy to retreat. "But sir, I have to go. delivery sir". "Don't you see the trouble here! Go back and wait there". Of course!! An auto driver has been hit and how can anyone go home or deliver pizzas or eat them in their cozy dining rooms. The pizza guy finally manage to wriggle out when the auto driver wasn't watching. We also made our way out throw a hundred detours.

But as we crossed the road through the forum premises, I looked back at all the guys who were giving us company till not so long ago. Not one moved; no one was irritated or was trying to find their way out. They stretched their arms and waited for the chaos to clear by itself. 10:50 in the night, ~J gave me a call and told me that the problem was sorted just then. I thought of all those who were waiting, and wondered how long their patience lasted; how numb the lifestyle here has made them; And how resigned they are to the behaviour of traffic that recoils and fails to move at the slightest provocation or spurt of activity.

Dark clouds roamed above and the thunders roared - Fate asketh thee to wait till eternity and thy shalt do so.

Yes my lord. No objection my lord.

Monday, July 11, 2005

And there you go!

Thank god I have a lot of work most of the time - one day of a little less work and look what all I am upto :) Was quite apprehensive about taking it wondering if it would actually send a report saying "Do ones like you really exist!" :)

Anyways, click here to find out what I am talkin' about or to just find a way to while away time :)

Weekend at Surabhi's

Two years ago, just around the same time, five really crazy nuts decided to take off to some forlorn island in the south of france to which for years, the postman was the only human link from the mainland. And for five days, they booked a cottage on top of the hill facing the ocean, travelled far and wide in their gaudy red hyundai around the circumference of the island; doing among other things - scuba diving, beach volleyball, lots of ogling and swimming training. Rumours still do the rounds in some houses in fontainebleau that one of them took off his oxygen mask while in the bottom of the Atlantic and had a close brush with death. Two years later, even now, that trip is one of the best ever trips for (at least) four out of five of those crazy nuts.

It was during that trip that for the first time I felt the utmost contentment of having lived life completely when slumping down in the bed at the end of the day. A sense of suspending reality, letting the world wait till this moment's over; A sense of recklessness beyond fear where any situation can be managed; And an insatiable urge to feel it over and over again ... that's been burning for a long time - seven months to be precise (after we were left freezing at -27 degrees on top of Switzerland). This trip to bandipur that happened over the weekend was hence long due.

Bandipur is a forest area situated in the borders of Tamil nadu, karnataka and kerala which housed among wild animals and trees, a petty thief with a lot of wilderness on his face. It's about five and a half hours drive from bangalore. We, six able young men and a lady, set out with our bags, knives and air guns to set up a tent in the middle of the forest and do some quality trekking and tiger-spotting. Well, things didn't exactly happen the way we wanted. But we still truck loads of fun. Here are a few highlights
  1. Walked up a five kilometer uphill stretch to a temple in Gopalaswamipeta very close to bandipur. The temple right on top of the hill, literally amidst the clouds and the stretching to eternity silence is divine.
  2. Finally went into one of those open jeep rides through the ragged paths in the forest with a digital handi-cam searching (in vain, unfortunately) for animals behind bushes and trees.
  3. Shot a whole documentary which includes a news report at the end of the day (like in those news channels. just that ours is more interesting ;)), a live commentary of the trip and of all the antics we did, and lots of deers, peacocks and monkeys.
  4. This probably sounds very childlike - but I have always wanted to sneak out of the open window of a moving car (tavera in our case), climb onto the top of the car and look around from there rather than sitting like a bored duck inside the car. Managed to do that finally in this one :) (though the driver was not too happy about it!)
And so many more that cannot be numbered and put into a list (the songs, jokes and the gaffes and guffaws) but still were what made the trip most memorable. There aren't too many snaps because all we spieldbergs were busy with the digicam. (We are planning to release a VCD of our documentary though :)). However, I shall upload all the snaps we have very soon.

Chalo. Let me get back to work now.

PS: The title is a dedication to the mallu restaurant that gave us some really good fish fries and chicken curries at really throw-away rates.

Friday, July 08, 2005

My pleasant ville

"So what did you do?", she asked between mouthfuls. I thought for a while and realized just as I told her that I didn't do anything - zilch. Nothing at all. "And then, what's this whole thing about celebrating your birthday with your parents?" Yeah - when you miss meetings, parties and travel six hours to go some place (and feel kicked about it), you are supposed to do something. Probably, even my mother understood it the same way when I told her I am coming home for my birthday. Saturday morning, when I landed home after the 22:55-to-chennai-B70-from-koyambedu-to-thirumulaivoil, and was half-dazedly staring at some half-naked actress on TV, my mom detailed the plans she had made for sunday. We will hire a car, go for a movie, then go to a restaurant and have dinner outside ... her voice trailed off when she realized I had dozed off midway.

I don't know what is it about going home - probably it's got to do with the fact that I have been spending 300+ days every year away from my parents for the last 7 years (like so many of us do) that I want to be with them at least on occasions like birthdays or new year's eve. Probably, going home is the most economical activity to do on one's birthday (an argument which pales considering I flew from france to chennai to be able to spend my birthday at home last year. My mom almost had a heart attack at such public display of affection!).

May be it's the charm associated with the idea of getting into a secluded spot beyond the reach of humanity. Oh trust me - my house is officially the last step in the threshold of humanity. I officially live in a world where streets have no name. No roads in the map lead to my house. Coming to my house is a roller coaster ride, the adventure quotient of which has been tripled ten times thanks to the latest "repair work" and the recent summer showers. So, entertaining visitors (that includes even the postman) is literally out of question. I haven't activated roaming in my mobile and phone lines in my house (of which very few have the number) are quite a mess. So, someone should really take an effort to reach any of us at home for whatever reasons.

Like my brother always says, I am probably old school. For me, it's an amazing feeling having my mom wake me up in the morning, her face being the first thing I see every year, finding the new dress ("Surprise!") I have to wear placed on the table when I come back after my bath, going to the same temple, meeting the same friends and/or their families. Makes me feel grounded, feel secure - for me, the neighbourhood where I spent the first seventeen years of my life is the place where nothing can go wrong, where every brick plays an old aunt that exclaims "Boy! Look how old you have become". People there are my excuses to relive my innocence, to remember where all this started. And given that it's a corner called Vijayalakshmipuram in Ambattur, things take eons to change. Every road (cricket pitches with galleries that extend to neighbour's terraces where history's etched in every broken window pane), every shop (where you shopped for rubber balls to rubbers!), every clinic (housing heartless doctors who draw your life into an empty syringe) to every soul who takes the 47D bus at 7:30 in the morning to reach office are still there like they have been painted as fixtures within a canvas.

And as the kid rides back on the bike to the bus stop watching the neighbourhood, deserted at nights but for a few blinking lights, he carries back a child like innocence into the cynical world - a dream about a happy place where all was once well, and will forever be. My pleasantville.

Thursday, July 07, 2005



I have finally got the photos from the plays we staged. The whole show was a collection of three short plays.

The snaps of the play I directed (Layaa) are here

You can find the photos of all the plays and all the fun we had before and after here

The photos of "Layaa" and "Words" are from our dress rehearsal and not from the final day shows. That might explain the different background (and the unkempt, unshaven and non-made-up faces) that you see in the photos :)


One of the most interesting discoveries that I have made in the recent past is the podcast. Now, I am not sure how many of you use iTunes to listen to music (it's free. it's good and hey, it's apple all the way! (though a trifle heavy on your system resources) and you find it here). With the latest version of iTunes you have the vast directory of podcasts - podcasts, are well.. it's difficult to explain. Let me do it with an example. I subscribed to this podcast called Cinecast which is a movie review "channel". This "channel" is updated every week with a new episode. Once I subscribe to it, I can download any of the earlier episodes and listen to them and iTunes automatically downloads the latest episodes as soon as I start it (the first thing I looked for was for a "Friends" podcast. Nay! you don't get it there!). What's amazing is the variety - I am currently listening to the adventures of sherlock holmes. The whole collection of sherlock holmes stories is read online and despite the occasional yawns and the squeaks, the narrator does manage to hold your attention. Apart from this, there're podcasts on science, movies, business, news. Ok .. before you shut the door on the salesman, I'll part with these profound last words - Do try it :)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Long lost twins?

Is it just me or don't you think they look quite similar? Wonder if the bestest player and the bestest director are indeed brothers lost in kumbh mela or something? :)

PS: Just realized blogger finally allows uploading of images!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Human Stain

I don’t know him. Never met him and whatever I have heard of him are occasions where he was a syllable in a collective noun, another head that’s a part of a reference to an ambiguous group whose span you have no idea of – Classmates, friends, acquaintances. His death shouldn’t really worry me or give me sleepless nights. But ever since I heard about it, there’s this nagging feeling of unrest inside, a feeling you can’t come to terms with but can do nothing about – like an irritating speck of dust ducked under your eyelid that refuses to leave.

An auto hits a college youth on his way to college and leaves him bleeding meters ahead. The auto itself topples to one corner and as the driver scrambles to get his vehicle back on the wheels, trespassers rush to help him leave the place as soon as possible. Onlookers from behind the rusted window bars of public transport stare at the college kid whose head is slowly gaining a red halo as his hair gets matted with blood. Busy professionals on their way to work blame the kid for taking up so much space in a road as busy as airport road. Someone calls for the traffic police to clear the mess. A circle of heads surrounds a rotting body. Rumors doing the rounds whisper the words “police case”, “trouble”, “ambulance” in each other’s ears. The circles gets wider – the pool of blood and the crowd of spineless spectators. The watches tick in horror for 45 minutes as the heads come and go. 45 minutes – the blood dries up in the burning concrete. Someone picks up the kid’s mobile and starts calling the numbers. One hour later, the kid is admitted in a hospital. Post mortem suggests that the kid could have been saved if he had been brought to the hospital in the first thirty minutes.

That night one murderer would have gone back home, washed his auto, confessed to his wife and would have lost sleep for the next fortnight hoping dreading the possibility of someone having noted down his vehicle number. Hundred more murderers would have gone back to coffee tables and office canteens and described the gruesome details of the accident and blame their inability in helping the situation (“Do you think our manager would have understood if I had been late?” “Damn that teleconference! I would have saved him otherwise!”). A million more heads would nod in unison and blamed the boy for speeding. A thousand more witnesses would have crossed the signal, yawned and resumed their usual gossip. One soul would never see the light of the day. One family would cry forever because, unfortunately, they live in the company of spineless men.

The city sleeps peacefully hoping the municipal corporation will clean the dried blood left on the road. It is distressing to watch roads littered with human stains on your way to work. Indeed.

Friday, July 01, 2005

After a long long time ...

And what do you know, the kempe gowda bus stop also has a broadband internet cafe :) Feels like a lifetime since I have been here last (been ages since I even read someone's blog) and I have so many things to talk about - movies I saw, books I have read, pimps I met, incidents, accidents and vague trains of thoughts that I have been chasing - so much to a point where it feels like a pressure cooker inside, where every thought is making its way out all at the sametime.
It was a good idea to make a list of books that I wanted to read - I have been clinically knocking them off from the list in the last few weeks. Started off with Jim morrison's biography (No one here gets out alive), and then went on to read Future of India (Bimal Jalan), Siddhartha (Herman Hesse), Swami and Friends (R K Narayan) leaving 1984, Brave new world and Orchid Thief on the list - Orchid thief will go down as one book that I have searched the most in my lifetime. There are probably a handful who have read the book. But the fact that Charlie kaufmann decided to take it up and adapt it into a screenplay (in his own unique way) is a good enough reason for me to read it. And what a movie - makes more sense everytime I read it (Yeah, I actually have read the whole script twice or thrice). Anyway, no reason to complain coz ~L has promised to give me Ponniyin Selvan and that's like a looong time resident in my to-be-read list. Right now it's "Anne Frank - the diary of a little girl" (I am thinking how she would have felt finding her diary being read by so many millions of people. Probably she has the answer to that question too. It's amazing reading something so unpretentious and so close to the heart, when you are not performing to an audience or writing to please someone)
On my way home now and I am so looking forward to it - Feels like a long time since I really slept like a log. Am telling myself that I will blog a lot during the weekend. But considering how sleepy I am feeling right now, I don't think I am going to come back here again. Let's see :)
Just a quick request - if any of you know of any interesting books on the life and times under the Nazis or any good introductory books on Economics, do let me know. So long ladies and gentlemen ....